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Nov 20, 2007 16:34 EEST
November 20 (SeeNews) - The U.N.-run Serbian province of Kosovo will not declare independence unilaterally after December 10, when a Troika of international envoys dealing with its status is due to present its status report to the United Nations, political analysts say.
“I do not believe that after December 10 Kosovo will unilaterally declare its independence from Serbia. I do not believe this could happen also by the end of January next year,” Berat Buzhala, chief editor and political analyst at Kosovo’s daily newspaper Express, told SeeNews.
According to the analysts, Kosovo's leaders will obey the international community's will that an independence declaration should not be rushed and will first seek consensus with them before taking any unilateral action.
“Each day we see a growing intention here in Kosovo for a preliminary consultation with the U.S. before a decision on the announcement of independence. This means that our leaders are ready to postpone the independence declaration for a while,” Avni Zogiani, head of the Pristina-based anti-corruption organisation Cohu, said.
On Monday the European Union's Council urged Kosovo's leaders not to rush unilateral independence but to wait for an agreed solution on the province's status.
Since 1999, when NATO bombing forced ex-Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic to halt a crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanians which Western powers said was leading to the repression of civilians, Kosovo has been under U.N. rule.
The ethnic Albanian majority insists on independence, its leaders repeatedly saying they are ready to declare this after December 10, while Serbia says it will not give more than broad autonomy.
The decision on Kosovo’s status has been postponed several times since the start in February 2006 of bilateral talks between the Serbs and the ethnic Albanian officials, seeking to reconcile the two parties on a common status decision.
On December 10 the Troika of envoys representing the United States, the EU and Russia is to present a report after a 120-day period of renewed talks between Belgrade and Pristina. In an effort to avoid a veto in the U.N. Security Council by Russia, a long time Serbian ally, the EU and the U.S. decided in July not to call a U.N. Security Council vote on Kosovo’s status.
“But besides the international community the new Kosovo government will have to take into consideration the lost patience of ethnic Albanians this time,” Zogiani said, adding that the tension among the ethnic Albanians over the status delay is already rising.
On Saturday Kosovo held its third parliamentary elections since the 1999 war. According to the partial official results of the Central Election Commission (KQZ), the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), in opposition since the previous general elections in 2004, won 34% of the votes, beating the ruling Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), which won 21.8%. Between 80% and 90% of the votes were counted, KQZ said, adding that it would release the final results next week.
Kosovo’s next Prime Minister would be former guerrilla commander and Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) member Hashim Thaci, who leads the PDK.
“Former members of UCK and the students are exerting pressure for unilateral independence right after December 10, if the Troika does not recommend it in its report,” Krenar Gashi, journalist and editor in the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) Kosovo, said.
“But opinions on the independence declaration are split among the political leaders. On the one hand we have the PDK with Hashim Thaci and the LDK with President Sejdiu, who seem to be more moderate. They say the declaration should be coordinated with the international community. On the other hand we have the outgoing Prime Minister, Agim Ceku, and Veton Surroi, who insist on the declaration after December 10,” Gashi said. Surroi is the leader of the Reformist Party ORA, which won 3.7% of the votes in Saturday’s election.
A decision on an independence declaration would need to be approved by Kosovo’s assembly. It has 120 seats, 100 of which are for ethnic Albanians, 10 for Kosovo’s Serbs and a further 10 for other minorities in the province.
The new Kosovo assembly is expected to be formed by December 4, the Chief of the U.N. Mission in Kosovo, Joachim Ruecker, said on Saturday. It then has a 30-day period to form a new government.
“Taking into account that these 20 votes of the minorities will not participate in the vote, then the declaration of independence will be very problematic if there is a lack of political consensus,” Gashi said. Some 60% of the 100 ethnic Albanian assembly members would need to vote for independence for such a decision to be approved.
“The Kosovo issue is not in the top five in the 'hierarchy of hot world questions'," Buzhala of Express said. "The Kosovo question could be among the most important but is certainly not the top priority for world policy. That’s why I think it will be solved in some kind of a bundle of issues in which Kosovo is only a smaller question. For example, among the current main issues on ballistic rockets, or the extension of NATO to Georgia, or on Iran, Kosovo could be a 'bargaining tool' between the U.S. and Russia,” he said.
He said he expects more months of delay when the Kosovo question returns to the U.N. Security Council.
“Taking into account the agenda of the Council in December, I do not believe that the Kosovo issue will be discussed. And when we see what happened in the Security Council in June and July, I only see as an option that the Security Council will discuss another draft on the status in January, or in February and so on and the status issue will be prolonged for more months,” Buzhala said.
During June and July the Kosovo issue was discussed several times in the Security Council as several drafts on the final status, prepared by the U.S. and the EU, were presented. Russia did not accept any of them and threatened that it would use its veto if a vote in the Council was scheduled. The EU and the U.S. decided to form the Troika to oversee a further 120 days of bilateral talks between Serbian and ethnic Albanian officials.
STATUS PROPOSALS IN THE TROIKA MEDIATION
Various proposals have been discussed during the Troika mediation for the eventual status of Kosovo.
- The Hong Kong model
In early November Serbia proposed the current model of Hong Kong as an eventual solution for Kosovo’s status. In 1997, after 156 years of British rule, Hong Kong was handed back to China but was granted a high degree of autonomy until at least 2047. China’s government is responsible for the defence and foreign policy of Hong Kong, while the city maintains its own British-style law system, police force and monetary system.
“The model of Hong Kong is totally unacceptable for Kosovo. […] The historic background is too different, " Buzhala said. "Serbia proposed the model as Kosovo would stay within Serbia’s borders, which could not be accepted. But we still see some light in this model, but not Kosovo under a sovereign Serbian state but Kosovo as a free trade zone in the EU and under EU rule. And Kosovo would accept this model whatever the length of the transition period. It might be 10, 20, 30 or even 40 years, but only under EU rule,” he added.
- The model of the two Germanys after World War Two
The EU envoy in the Troika, Wolfgang Ischinger, proposed the model of the two Germanys according to the 1972 pact that normalised the relations between the two states after the Second World War.
“For me this is the most optimal model. The two Germanys were reconciled with the existence of each other. West Germany accepted East Germany de facto but not de jure," Buzhala said.
"And the most important thing was that West Germany was not obliged to relinquish its ambitions to regain the East, the same thing that Serbia wants. So if this model is accepted, the international community will not oblige Serbia to give up its ambitions over Kosovo, but only to accept the new reality, to accept de facto the sovereignty of Kosovo. I believe this is the only option that could reconcile the two sides,” he added.
But Zogjani from the anti-corruption organisation Cohu is less optimistic, saying, “I do not believe that any model could be accepted by Serbia and by Kosovo. The only word that matters is 'independence'.”
“The Troika will not say what the exact model would be, just because its mandate has not expired yet. There are some more weeks for status settlement ideas until December 10,” Gashi from the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network said.
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